Peer pressure leading recruits to Iowa

July 18, 2009
Southfield-Lathrup (Mich.) High School's Roy Marble Jr., during practice on Friday, January 11, 2008.  (Photo by DAVID KILKENNEY/Special to The Free Press)

Southfield-Lathrup (Mich.) High School's Roy Marble Jr., during practice on Friday, January 11, 2008. (Photo by DAVID KILKENNEY/Special to The Free Press)

Most people believe peer pressure for teenagers involves only their friends. That’s not necessarily accurate, especially when it comes to sports recruiting.

College sports teams — especially in basketball — have only a few select scholarships open each year. Once they’re gone, those scholarships aren’t coming back.

Iowa had four open scholarships for 2010. In fall 2008, Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt forward Cody Larson committed to Iowa. Shortly thereafter, Chanse Creekmur from Marshalltown committed (and later decommitted).

In March, when four Iowa players left the program, Iowa suddenly had four available scholarships for the 2010 season. One, obviously, is on hold for Larson. But within the last month, Iowa secured three commitments while somewhat playing those recruits against others.

Mundelein (Ill.) guard Ben Brust was the first to jump on board, picked Iowa over Northwestern and Butler on July 1. Then, in stunning fashion, Iowa nabbed Detroit’s Roy Marble Jr., son of the school’s all-time leading scorer Roy Marble, one day later. Marble, who had several offers from mid-majors and had looks from Michigan and Michigan State, was interested in other schools but was comfortable with Iowa. He didn’t want to risk losing a scholarship to play the scholarship waiting game elsewhere.

“I committed early because kids are starting to commit early,” he said. “Because I had some idea I wanted to be a Hawk, I didn’t want them to take my scholarship and give it to somebody else.”

McCabe became a summer camp superstar, receiving scholarship offers from Minnesota, Arizona State, Utah, Northwestern and other schools in the region. He received an offer from Iowa in March but wanted to wait almost to validate his commitment. He knew Iowa had only one scholarship left for his class, and he couldn’t leave the coaches hanging forever.

“I think for me it was kind of nerve wracking for a little while,” he said. “But I was excited when Iowa got Ben Brust and Roy Marble Jr. I played against Ben Brust in a tournament in Chicago. He’s a very good guard. Of course I know about Cody Larson. He’s very athletic. I’m just excited just knowing those other players are coming in.”

All of Iowa’s 2010 recruits also received boosts from people connected with the Iowa program. Marble Jr.’s dad is the only player to score more than 2,000 for Iowa.McCabe’s former high school teammate, Brennan Cougill, will be a freshman this fall at Iowa. Brust is good friends with Cully Payne, who also is an incoming freshman. Larson grew up in the same town as Wisconsin’s Joe Krabbenhoft, who told Larson that Iowa’s program was headed in the right direction.

Iowa could have other scholarships open up in 2010, if someone leaves the team early. Here’s a look at Iowa’s class of 2010 and their numbers last year.

Roy Marble Jr., a 6-foot-5 guard/forward from Detroit, averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists

Zach McCabe, a 6-foot-6 forward, averaged 16.1 points, nine rebounds and 5.3 assists for Class 3A state champion Sioux City Heelan

Cody Larson, a 6-foot-8 forward/post, averaged 17.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists for Sioux Falls Roosevelt. He had offseason knee surgery

Ben Brust, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 28 points a game for Mundelein (Ill.) High School until breaking his leg midway through the season


Zach McCabe tabs Iowa, touts ‘physical’ play

July 17, 2009
Sioux City Heelan's Zach McCabe dunks the ball in his team's victory over Carroll in a Class 3A semifinal game at the Iowa boys high school basketball tournament,  Thursday, March 12, 2009, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)

Sioux City Heelan's Zach McCabe dunks the ball in his team's victory over Carroll in a Class 3A semifinal game at the Iowa boys high school basketball tournament, Thursday, March 12, 2009, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)

Sioux City Heelan senior Zach McCabe sifted through numerous basketball scholarship offers but only one tugged at his heart.

McCabe, a 6-foot-6 forward, picked Iowa over Arizona State, Virginia, Utah, Minnesota and Northwestern among others. McCabe said his choice came down to one simple, yet special factor.

“I’ve been a Hawkeye fan ever since I was a little kid,” McCabe said Friday. “Playing there has always been a dream of mine. For me I wanted to stay close to home and instate and help Iowa be winners.”

McCabe is the fourth and final high school commitment for the 2010 class. He joins guards Roy Marble Jr. of Detroit and Ben Brust of Mundelein, Ill., and forward Cody Larson of South Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt as future Iowa players.

McCabe averaged 16.1 points and nine rebounds a game for the Class 3A state champion Crusaders. He led the team in assists with 144 and sank 50.3 percent of his shots. He was a teammate of incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill.

“They’re going to get somebody who’s both blue collar and white collar,” Heelan Coach Tom Betz said. “He’s not afraid to do the dirty work. He’s a competitor.

“He’s as competitive of a kid we’ve ever had and a very skilled kid. He shoots the ball extremely well and plays both ends of the court.”

McCabe also plays quarterback for Heelan’s football team and garnered a few football scholarship offers. He said his passion lies with basketball, which made his college sport an easy choice. But his on-court basketball mentality mirrors his football mindset.

“I’m a very tough player, pretty physical,” McCabe said. “For me, I can score and rebound. I pretty much do anything the coaches ask me to do.”

Iowa coaches offered McCabe a scholarship earlier this year, but McCabe wanted to take his time to validate his choice. He played in a summer AAU tournament in Milwaukee last week and talked with his family about the new offers he had received.

“I told them I love Iowa a lot, and that’s where I wanted to go,” he said. “They (family members) would have been happy with anywhere I would have went. But they’re Hawkeye fans.”


Roy Marble Sr. ‘blown away’ by son’s decision

July 2, 2009
Roy Marble Jr. loosens up before a Southfield Lathrup (Mich.) High School basketball practice. (Detroit Free Press)

Roy Marble Jr. loosens up before a Southfield Lathrup (Mich.) High School basketball practice. (Detroit Free Press)

Roy Marble Sr. got the call Wednesday night, the one he didn’t expect but the one he always wanted.

His son, Roy Marble Jr., phoned to tell him his college choice. Roy Marble Jr., a senior at Southfield Lathrup (Mich.) High School, will follow his father at the University of Iowa.

“Man, words don’t even describe it,” Marble Sr. said Thursday. “We’re already close as it is. We probably talk more than we should sometimes. But to actually have him in front of me where I could actually pass on my knowledge in every area of growing up in college life and everything, God blessed me with a great kid.

“It’s like Christmas 10 times over.”

Roy Marble Sr. scored 2,116 points his career at Iowa from 1986-89. He’s the only player in Iowa history to score more than 1,800 points. He lives in Cedar Rapids and works as an analyst for the Big Ten Network and a consultant for Kirkwood Community College.

Roy Marble Jr. said he visits his father about three times a year. Marble Jr. said he and his father discussed his college choices but the younger Marble was able to make his own choice.

“He had his thoughts on it and stuff and helped with me the decision,” Roy Marble Jr. said. “I didn’t feel any pressure, though.”

Marble Sr. said he questioned his son about coming to Iowa during the recruiting process, primarily because of his own legacy. But his son stood up to him. Marble Sr. relented.

I laughed and said, ‘OK, you’re just like me. You’re going to take on the biggest challenge,’” Marble Sr. said.

Former Iowa basketball player Roy Marble drives to the basket in a 1986 game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Marble is Iowa's all-time leading scorer. His son, Roy Marble Jr., committed to Iowa on Thursday. (The Gazette)

Former Iowa basketball player Roy Marble drives to the basket in a 1986 game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Marble is Iowa's all-time leading scorer. His son, Roy Marble Jr., committed to Iowa on Thursday. (The Gazette)

But it wasn’t preordained that Marble Jr. would follow his father to Iowa. He attended an elite camp at the University of Michigan earlier this month. He visited Providence, liked Michigan, and had offers from Detroit and Dayton. But Marble Jr. was blown away by Iowa’s coaching staff. He’s Iowa’s third 2010 basketball commitment.

“I committed early because kids are starting to commit early,” he said. “Because I had some idea I wanted to be a Hawk, I didn’t want them to take my scholarship and give it to somebody else.

“I felt real comfortable when I came down here for a visit. I liked the environment.”

Marble Jr., a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists as a junior. He scored 28 points in a regional loss to a team featuring two Michigan State recruits. He’s confident in his abilities and what he can do for Iowa.

“I shoot the ball real well,” he said. “I attack the basket real well. I’m both a scorer and a slasher.”

Two weeks ago, both Marbles attended a Prime Time League game in North Liberty and received applause from the gym full of fans.

“They gave me a warm welcome and let me know how they feel about the situation,” Marble Jr. said. “It was cool.”

For Marble Sr., it’s nearly perfect. After losing his downtown businesses in the 2008 floods, he now has something exciting in his life.

“This is like my cash back in sort of thing,” he said. “This is bringing me some happiness in my life, rather than sitting around being sad. It takes my mind off of that. Now I can concentrate on being the best dad I can and get ready for some good old-fashioned Hawkeye basketball.”


Marble Jr. makes decision

July 2, 2009

According to both HawkeyeReport.com and HawkeyeNation.com, Roy Marble Jr. has committed to Iowa.

Marble Jr., son of Iowa’s all-time leading scorer Roy Marble, is the second 2010 commitment. Ben Brust of Mundelein, Ill., committed to Iowa on Wednesday.


Ben Brust makes it official

July 1, 2009

Prep guard Ben Brust has chosen to play basketball at Iowa next year, he told me moments ago.

Brust chose Iowa over Northwestern, Stanford and Butler.

“It is official … I’m going to be Hawkeye,” Brust told me.

 

“I did all my homework, and I know this is what the right place,” he said. “It’s a great college town, the atmosphere … academically it’s what I’m looking for in a school.”

Brust, a 6-foot-2 incoming senior at Mundelein High School, averaged 28 points a game last year as a high school junior before breaking his leg. He said he’s completely healed from that injury.

Brust also is good friends with incoming Iowa freshman guard Cully Payne, who also is from the Chicago suburbs. Tuesday, the duo shot baskets at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and Brust said that helped seal his decision. Brust also is excited about competing in the Big Ten.

“The Big Ten is a major plus,” he said. “The fact you go into all these places and compete against all these opponents, that’s I want to do.”

Brust joins Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt’s Cody Larson as Iowa’s 2010 commitments. Iowa has two scholarships available and have offered them to Sioux City Heelan’s Zach McCabe and Roy Marble Jr., son of Iowa’s all-time leading scorer Roy Marble.


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